Title: "NPT Conference Winding Up Treaty Review." The third week of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference drew to a close with diplomats locked in intense
negotiations over the wording of the session's final documents. (950505)
Translated Title: Conferencia TNP concluye revision del tratado. (950505)
Author: AITA, JUDY (USIA STAFF WRITER)
NPT CONFERENCE WINDING UP TREATY REVIEW (NPT: Delegates debate rules for vote on extension) (1250) By Judy Aita USIA United Nations Correspondent United Nations -- The third week of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review and extension conference drew to a close with diplomats and arms control experts locked in intense negotiations over the wording of the session's final documents and the rules governing a vote on the future of the treaty.
Stressing that the United States "has taken tremendous initiative" in pursuing disarmament, a top U.S. official was at U.N. headquarters May 4 lobbying conference delegations that had not yet indicated support for the indefinite, unconditional extension of the NPT, the option favored by the United States and apparently by a majority of the treaty's 178 parties.
At a press conference after meeting with NPT delegates, U.S. Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary said that she discussed with about 40 delegations "not simply the words that we've uttered but the actions we have taken in safeguards and security and transparency and opening up our sites to the Russians...and in general pointing out what we have done to live up to the conditions of Article 6 and Article 4" of the NPT.
Article 6 of the treaty calls for the nuclear weapons states to reduce their own arsenals. Article 4 urges parties to facilitate exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information related to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
"I hope that when they review the track record of the United States on all of these issues...they will be persuaded that the continuation of this treaty is not only important to the United States -- as it clearly is -- but important to their nations as well," O'Leary said.
The energy secretary also said she expects the United States and Russia to agree to deeper and further nuclear reductions before the end of the year, a development much sought by the non-nuclear weapons states that are parties to the treaty.
She pointed out that President Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin have indicated that "when conditions were right they both believe we could go toward deeper and further reduction."
"We continue to believe that, and I'm very much focused on what will happen" when Clinton and Yeltsin hold their summit meeting in Moscow May 10 "and as we move further into the year," she said.
O'Leary noted some of the steps the United States is taking, in accordance with the NPT, beyond dismantling nuclear weapons. They include opening two sites to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards inspections; beginning the necessary steps with IAEA to place 200 tons of excess fissile material under safeguards; stopping the planning of an integral fast reactor which could have produced fissile material; and working to complete a comprehensive test ban treaty by the end of the year.
"In the United States I know we are doing our job," O'Leary said. "What we have tended to do internationally is to try to provide the leadership by way of example."
The secretary said the United States is supporting South Africa's proposal for enhanced security assurances through a strengthened review process. "Part of the message I want to bring on behalf of our country and administration is that we, too, agree with the principles they (the South Africans) have outlined, and now...we need the language finely reduced to language on which there is consensus and I have every belief that the United States delegation will be supporting that language," she said.
The extension of the NPT will be the central and final question before the conference, which began on April 17 and is scheduled to end on May 12.
The NPT, which was designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology as well as further the goal of general and complete disarmament, also established a safeguards system administered by the IAEA and promotes the cooperation of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.
Article 10 of the treaty stipulates that the conference convened 25 years after the treaty's entry into force is to decide on its extension. The decision, which is to be taken by a majority of the parties, will determine whether the NPT is extended indefinitely or for a fixed period or periods.
The Campaign for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a group of 18 non-governmental arms control groups, has estimated that 103 states support indefinite extension with another 28 states "leaning yes." The campaign said April 26 that 22 states are against indefinite extension and another 12 are "leaning no." Twelve remain undecided.
Of the 178 NPT parties, 168 are attending the session, the conference secretariat reported May 4. However the extension decision still requires a simple majority of all the NPT parties whether they are voting or not. Thus, 90 votes will be needed if the issue goes to a vote.
Nevertheless, negotiations are continuing under the auspices of Conference President Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka to get a consensus decision on the treaty's extension, which, the president said, he feels is important for the overall strength of the treaty.
"A good review and the atmosphere it generates will help facilitate an extension decision," Dhanapala said May 4. "A number of issues that are in the minds of many delegations have been discussed in committee...and if they are reflected in the final declaration there will be a basis for extension as a natural outgrowth of that declaration."
While there is no direct linkage between the review and the indefinite extension of the treaty, the president said, "the cumulative effect of having a good review document, agreement on strengthening the review process, and agreement on the principle of nuclear non-proliferation will contribute to having a decision that can be adopted by consensus.
"Of course it is a political decision, and with a number of issues unresolved the next days will be crucial in order to achieve that agreement."
If a consensus cannot be reached, Dhanapala said, "we are expected to have a vote" on treaty extension the morning of May 10. He added that a decision has not been reached on whether such a ballot would be secret or open.
A senior U.S. official said late last month that the United States is "strongly opposed to secret ballot -- as are virtually all democratic countries. It is inconsistent, we think, to have a vote on a public treaty in secret."
The conference secretariat has not received formal proposals for a vote on the treaty extension. However delegates expect that two will be submitted by a May 5 deadline: one proposing unconditional, indefinite extension; the other proposing a series of rolling 25-year extensions with specific objectives set for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation every five years.
Dhanapala said his consultations with delegations have also revealed that "there is widespread support for strengthening the review process," including more frequent meetings of the NPT parties during the five years between the major reviews and adding review of subsidiary issues such as universality to the review conferences.
The three main committees -- on disarmament, safeguards and nuclear weapons free zones, and non-military uses -- have been working to finalize their reports and recommendations, which were slated to be presented to the conference beginning May 5. But diplomats feel that the review process, especially in the committee on disarmament, will likely continue into the final week. That committee failed to come to agreement at conferences in 1980 and 1990.